ADELE impersonator Maria Herriott says she owes her life to the star after being inspired by her incredible 7st weight loss.
Maria, 44, who performs as an Adele tribute act in pubs, bars and clubs up and down the country, admits it was the singer’s image overhaul – first revealed in October 2019 – that gave her the confidence to follow suit.
After losing an astounding 8st 11lbs herself, size 14-16 Maria says: “I believe Adele has saved my life. She has been such a huge inspiration for me.
“I’ve followed her journey for years, performing as her and replicating her looks.
“Now she’s on the slimmer side, she’s given me that goal to work towards – that healthier lifestyle I’ve been craving for years is finally becoming a reality for me.”
Maria, who lives in Paddock Wood, Kent with customer services associate fiancée Damien Daunt, 47, and their two kids Christiana, seven, and six-year-old Teddy, and is also mum to Alexandra, 25, and Mimi, 17, from a previous relationship, was first told of her resemblance to Adele five years ago by her brother, Mike Smith, 46, who heads up a hair transplant firm.
Maria says: “He was a singer at the time, but I’d never sung before. He said to me, ‘You’re missing a trick. You’re a big girl like Adele, you can sing. You’d be crazy not to do an Adele tribute.’
“I started really looking into and I thought perhaps I can do her. I sang a couple of her songs and got some nice reactions and that was that.”
But how does Maria’s voice compare with the real deal?
She says: “I sing the songs as closely to how she does – I don’t put my own spin on it.
“I just whack up the accent a bit stronger because I’ve been out of Walthamstow for 22 years.
“People often say to me at the end of gigs, ‘Do you get fed up putting the accent on?’ And I say, ‘No, unfortunately it’s the accent I grew up with.’
“We grew up in the same neck of the woods – Walthamstow and Tottenham are right next door.
“She sings about the River Lea which runs through Walthamstow where I played as a child with my friends. Our accents are very similar when we get going – we’ve both got that cackle.
“She’d always been a big girl, from when she first started singing. So to see someone who’d been where I’d been and now she’s somewhere I’d love to be – if she can do it, I can do it.”
Like Adele, Maria has always struggled with her weight and piled on the pounds until she was an uncomfortable size 28 at her biggest, after having second daughter Mimi at the age of 27 in 2004.
She says: “Just getting up and walking about is difficult when you’re that kind of size.
“I remember pushing my daughter through a market and thinking, ‘When she’s walking and I don’t have this pram, what am I going to do?’ Because I needed the pram to help me along.
“I was in a shop with my mum, getting up from being sat down while she was trying on clothes – it was a struggle getting up off the seat.”
In 2008, 23st 6lbs Maria chose to have a gastric band fitted, helping her slim down to a size 18-20 and weighing 17st7lbs. But by 2019 the band had to be removed after causing complications and 5’10” Maria quickly ballooned back up to a size 24.
She says: “Within six months I’d put on four stone – all my clothes were just bulging at the seams. I knew I couldn’t control my weight on my own.”
After seeing pictures of Adele’s transformation, Maria knew she had to follow suit and get her weight back under control.
She says: “Adele looked incredible. The pictures of her on the beach were a shocker. She’d lost so much weight so fast, she hadn’t given me a chance to keep up.
“I felt embarrassed to go to my gigs at the size that I was once she’d done her reveal.
“Everyone would say to me at gigs, ‘Have you seen the weight Adele’s lost?’ I definitely felt the pressure.”
So in October 2020, Maria went back under the knife – this time for a gastric bypass, which reduces the size of the stomach and re-routes part of the small intestine to limit the amount of food a person can eat.
She says: “I felt desperate because I’d put on that weight so quickly and I was frightened I was going back to the way I was.
“I was extremely lucky because I didn’t suffer with any excruciating pain during my recovery, I only had paracetamol for a day.
“I was up walking the same day, the next day I was home.”
Adele has reportedly slimmed down thanks to the sirtfood diet, which involves eating foods rich in protein sirtuin, like blueberries, strawberries, turmeric, walnuts, onions and even dark chocolate, while limiting calorie intake to between 1000 and 1500 per day.
Maria, currently 14st9lbs, has stuck to smaller portions of the meals she cooks for her family – like chilli con carne but with only a small amount of rice – and is also counting her calories in a bid to get down to 13st.
She says: “I try and stick to 1300 calories a day. It can be difficult.
“I don’t get physical hunger, or my belly rumbling, but my brain still thinks about food morning, noon and night.
“There are definitely days when I go over, but then there are days when I go massively under and only have 700 calories in a day.”
Maria – who has taken up walking, using a treadmill and exercises like squats and arm swings – is still in disbelief over her astonishing transformation.
She says: “I still see myself as very big. I asked my fiance the other day, ‘Do you still fancy me?’ Because now I’ve lost weight I thought he would be more attentive.
“But it was really lovely, because he said, ‘It’s never been about your weight, I thought you’d know that by now.’ He loves every inch of me.
All I want to do is blend in and be normal. I’ve always admired the fuller figure. A size 12-14 is the dream, I don’t want to go any slimmer than that.”
Maria – who was mistaken for the real Adele by a fan while attending the star’s gig at Wembley in 2017 – says she’s confident her new look will help her get more work.
She says: “I definitely think my weight loss will boost my bookings. I’m looking more like Adele is now so that will help improve my chances of getting bigger, better gigs.”
Maria, who is set to tie the knot with partner Damien next year, reckons there’s only one person who could make her big day extra special.
She says: “Because she’s been ordained, I’m hoping that she’ll come and marry me. That would be great, wouldn’t it? I’ve done all this inspired by her – I think she owes me a wedding.”
Want to know more about Adele's weightloss?
The mum-of-one was spotted partying with Brit actor Daniel Kaluuya after he picked up the Best Supporting Actor gong at the Oscars.
Dressed in a feathered green coat, the 32-year-old was seen laughing and dancing with pals and fellow A-listers including Drake at the bash, a month after she finalised her £140million divorce from Simon Konecki.
Adele has been keeping a low profile in recent months but she stunned fans on her birthday in May 2020, when she broke her 2020 social media silence with a photo of her looking super slim in a skintight black dress.
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